08 January 2021
15 January 2021
12 February 2021
26 February 2021
19 March 2021
Camille Saint-Saëns (1 stamp)
26 March 2021
‘The Circle’ by Vassily Kandinsky (booklet of 12 stamps)
26 March 2021
World Capitals – Stockholm (miniature sheet of 4 stamps)
02 April 2021
Pierre Clostermann and Claire Roman (1 stamp, 2 sheet formats)
02 April 2021
Pont-en-Royans Isère (1 stamp)
09 April 2021
Charles Baudelaire (1 stamp)
09 April 2021
Le Petit Prince 75th Anniversary (1 stamp)
17 April 2021
Napoleon I (1 miniature sheet with 2 stamps)
23 April 2021
Treasures of Notre-Dame – Adam and Eve (1 souvenir sheet)
La Poste is a postal service company in France, operating in Metropolitan France as well as in the five French overseas departments — French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Réunion) and the overseas collectivity of Saint Pierre and Miquelon. Because of bilateral agreements, La Poste also has responsibility for mail services in Monaco through La Poste Monaco and in Andorra alongside the Spanish company Correos.
The company was created in 1991 following the split of the French PTT, a government department responsible for mail, telegraph and telephone services in France. The PTT, founded in 1879, was then divided between La Poste, which became responsible for postal service, and France Télécom (nowadays Orange) for the telecommunication services. France Télécom was immediately privatized but La Poste has remained a public company. However, in 1997 EU directive 97/67/EC required member states to “fully open the postal sector to competition”, with the result that the French government allowed private postal service companies in 2005 and transformed La Poste into a public-owned company limited by shares in 2010.
La Poste is a parent company of the Groupe La Poste, which also comprises a bank and insurance company (La Banque postale), a logistics service company (Geopost) and a mobile network operator (La Poste Mobile). Although its postal activities are declining because of the development of the Internet, they still represented half of the company’s income. Other activities, such as parcel delivery and banking, are on the rise. The two represented respectively a quarter of the company’s income in 2017.
During the Middle Ages, postal delivery in France was not organized by the state and was provided by private enterprise. University envoys dominated the market from the 13th century onwards. The first French mail service was set up on 19 June 1464 by decree of King Louis XI; it only operated for the king and the royal court. In 1477, Louis XI created coaching inns to deliver his own letters. These inns were for temporary use and usually led to battlefields.
In 1490 the Counts of Thurn and Taxis set up an international service. In 1576, royal mail delivery was further improved with the creation of the office of royal envoy. Royal envoys were allowed to provide services to private individuals. They prefigured modern postal services and their existence led to the appearance of the first post offices at the end of the 16th century.
The first set fees appeared in 1627 for letters sent to Bordeaux, Lyon, Toulouse and Dijon. As with the rest of Europe, stamps did not exist in France at that time and mail was paid for by the recipient. The first map of post roads was published in 1632 and a book compiling lists of roads and inns including distances and fees to be paid was released in 1707. A new edition was released every two years until 1859. The country already had 623 coaching inns in 1632 and the figure reached 800 at the beginning of the 18th century.
By a decree dated 19 July 1653, Renouard de Vélayer and Count Nogent were granted the right of collecting and delivering letters, notes and document within the city of Paris. Boxes were placed in different parts of the city for the reception of the post. The mail had to have a strip of paper, produced by de Vélayer, showing that payment had been made. From contemporary descriptions it would appear that these strips just had plain text printed on them. These paper strips were called billet de port payé and their price was one sou. The venture appears not to have been very successful; it ceased just after two years. None of these paper strips are known to exist today.
A ferme générale was created for mail services in 1672, which meant that postal services started to be subject to taxation. Until about 1700 the postal markings letters were endorsed by hand. In the early 1700s a start was made to introduce straight line postal markings. Tax officers progressively bought private postal companies and university envoys became subjects to the ferme générale in 1719. International treaties regarding postal services were signed with neighboring countries under Louis XIV.
By 1789 the entire country was covered with a postal network and relationships with neighboring countries were established. During the French Revolution French postal services progressively became a fully public service. Directors of post offices lost their privileges in 1789 and their position became subject to universal suffrage. The ferme générale was abolished two years later and post offices started to be directly administered by the state. As a reaction to commonplace opening of letters by the royal authorities, an oath of confidentiality became compulsory for post employees in 1790. The first French mail coach appeared in 1793 and the first telegram in the world was delivered in 1794 with the Chappe optical transmitter on the Paris-Lille line.
After the Revolution, French postal services continued their modernization. Dated postmarks were introduced in France in the early 1800s. An 1801 decree reasserted the state monopoly on mail delivery, postal orders were created in 1817. A rural service was implemented in 1830 with a mail delivery in rural areas every two days. The delivery became daily from 1832.
The first France stamps were the 20 centimes black and 1 franc orange-vermilion issued on 1 January 1849, nine years after they were invented in the United Kingdom. With the introduction of stamps various new marks were introduced to obliterate the stamps. Following a vote on 21 November 1852 Napoleon III was declared Emperor and stamps depicting Napoleon’s head replaced the Ceres head. Initially the stamps were inscribed REPUB FRANC and in August 1853 new stamps inscribed EMPIRE FRANC appeared.
In 1870 France went to war with Prussia. The French were defeated, the Emperor captured and the Empire was dissolved. A Third Republic was declared and a provisional government set up in Bordeaux. The Ceres design of the Second Republic was reintroduced and the stamps were printed in Bordeaux. The Prussians advanced and laid siege to Paris in September 1870 to February 1871. During the siege various methods were used to get mail in and out of Paris. This included manned balloons, floating canisters and pigeons. Stamps were printed in Paris during the siege using plates from the 1849-1852 issue.
France was one of the original signatories of the General Postal Union in 1874; it became the Universal Postal Union in 1879. On 1 January 1899, following the introduction of the Imperial Penny Post a week earlier, the French established a Colonial rate equal to the French internal mail rate.
Post and telegraphs were united in one administration by the French government in 1879, giving birth to the P&T (Postes et télégraphes) which later became the PTT (Postes, télégraphes et téléphones). A French ministry of post and telegraphs was created the same year. A national savings bank opened in 1881 and was added to the services provided by the P&T. The government took a monopoly over telephone services in 1889 and placed this responsibility under the P&T. The administration then became PTT and kept this name until 1959 when it became Postes et Télécommunications, although the acronym PTT was kept.
1914 saw France entering the war against Germany after the invasion of Belgium, immediately moving into German Alsace. Horrendous trench warfare followed. In 1916 German stamps overprinted for the Western Military Command were therefore used in various occupied areas. Then, May 1939 saw the Germans invade Holland and Belgium and quickly passed through to enter France from the north-east and directly south of Luxembourg. The French army fell back and its British allies, pinned to the Channel coast, were forced to withdraw from Dunkirk. On 6 June 1944 the Allies invaded Normandy and in August, southern France. By the end of 1944 virtually all of France had been liberated and Paris became the capital again in August. Stamps of a new design were printed in Washington and brought to France by the Allies in June. These were used in liberated areas as the forces advanced.
Postal cheques were created in 1918. The first airmail flight operated in 1912 between Nancy and Lunéville and a regular airmail network was put in place in 1935 through the “Air Bleu” company. Night airmail services started in 1939 on two lines: Paris-Bordeaux-Pau and Paris-Lyon-Marseille. Postcodes were introduced in France in 1964.
Since its creation, La Poste has had to face strong competition from the Internet. As a result, it has tried to innovate and diversify its activities. In 2000, it became a webmail provider and created GeoPost, its logistics and parcel delivery subsidiary. The following year, it released its online trading platform to reinforce its online banking services. To comply with the law and EU directives, the banking activities had to form a distinct subsidiary in 2006, called La Banque postale. It received the official status of a bank while it had remained a public savings bank until then.
La Poste lost its monopoly on postal delivery in 2005. Since then, several competing firms have started business in France. Most of them only deliver parcels (for example, TNT Express, DHL Express and United Parcel Service) or recorded letters, while mail delivery itself has yet to attract private companies. Most of the companies dealing with mail services only operate on a local scale, because they cannot compete with the extremely wide network of offices La Poste enjoys throughout the country.
La Poste became a public limited company in 2010. Although most of the Western European countries have fully privatized their postal service companies, public opinion in France is largely against such a move. A majority of French citizens fear that if La Poste becomes a private company, many post offices would close, rural areas would be neglected and stamps would be more expensive. Supporters of privatization claim that it would help solving the debt (€5.8 billion in 2009) and contain the rise of prices.
In 2013 La Poste invested around €1 billion in renovating post offices, modernizing infrastructure and reinforcing its network, along with the purchase of electric delivery vehicles. Acquisitions included more Seur franchises in Spain, a 40% stake in Indian parcel firm DTDC and a similar stake in French parcel firm Colizen. The company also bought a 66% stake in freight forwarder Tigers. Via its joint venture with Swiss Post, Asendia, the Group acquired Pitney Bowes’ international mail business operations in the UK, and a 40% stake in Irish e-commerce firm eShopWorld.
In December 2016, La Poste launched a regular delivery line by drones to deliver to isolated companies in secluded areas of France.
Yellow is the main colour of the French post since the 1960s. Previously, postal vans used to be green and post boxes blue. Yellow was chosen because it is a colour that is easily seen and because it can symbolise speed and light. The logotype of La Poste was created by poster designer Guy Georget. It represents a bird, often called the “postal bird” (l’oiseau postal), symbolizing a messenger. Its design was slightly altered by Georget in 1978.
The French Republic / République française
France, officially the French Republic (French: République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. France borders Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland, Monaco and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south, as well as the Netherlands, Suriname and Brazil in the Americas. The country’s eighteen integral regions (five of which are situated overseas) span a combined area of 643,801 km2 (248,573 square miles) and a total population of 67.41 million (as of December 2020). France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country’s largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice. France, including its overseas territories, has the most time zones of any country, with a total of twelve.
During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls, a collection of Celtic tribes. The area was annexed by Rome in 51 BC, developing a distinct Gallo-Roman culture that laid the foundation of the French language. The Germanic Franks arrived in 476 and formed the Kingdom of Francia, which became the heartland of the Carolingian Empire. The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned the empire, with West Francia becoming the Kingdom of France in 987.
For much of the High Middle Ages, France was a highly decentralized feudal kingdom in which the authority of the king was barely felt. King Philip Augustus achieved remarkable success in the strengthening of royal power and the expansion of his realm, doubling its size and defeating his rivals. By the end of his reign, France had emerged as the most powerful state in Europe. In the mid-14th century, French monarchs were embroiled in a series of dynastic conflicts with their English counterparts, which lasted over 100 years. Emerging victorious from said conflicts, disputes with Spain and the Holy Roman Empire soon followed during the Renaissance but were ultimately less successful. However, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world.
The second half of the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots), which severely weakened the country. But France once again emerged as Europe’s dominant cultural, political, and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV following the Thirty Years’ War. An inadequate financial model and inequitable taxation system as well as endless and costly wars to maintain its predominant position, the Seven Years’ War and American War of Independence among them, left the heavily indebted kingdom in a precarious situation by the end of the 18th century. The French Revolution in 1789 saw the fall of the absolute monarchy that characterized the Ancien Régime and from its ashes, rose one of modern history’s earliest republics, which drafted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The declaration expresses the nation’s ideals to this day.
Following the revolution, France reached its political and military zenith in the early 19th century under Napoleon Bonaparte, subjugating much of continental Europe and establishing the First French Empire. The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of European and world history. After the collapse of the empire and a relative decline, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating in the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870 in the midst of the Franco-Prussian War. France was one of the prominent participants of World War I, from which it emerged victorious, and was one of the Allied powers in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and later dissolved in the course of the Algerian War. The Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, was formed in 1958 and remains to this day. Algeria and nearly all other French colonies became independent in the 1960s, with most retaining close economic and military connections with France.
France retains its centuries-long status as a global centre of art, science, and philosophy. It hosts the world’s fifth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving over 89 million foreign visitors in 2018. France is a developed country with the world’s seventh-largest economy by nominal GDP, and the tenth-largest by PPP. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, and human development. It remains a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and an official nuclear-weapon state. France is a founding and leading member of the European Union and the Eurozone, and a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and La Francophonie.
The flag of France (drapeau français) is a tricolor flag featuring three vertical bands coloured blue (hoist side), white, and red. It is known to English speakers as the French Tricolor or simply the Tricolor (Tricolore). The Tricolor has become one of the most influential flags in history, with its three-colour scheme being copied by many other nations, both in Europe and the rest of the world, and, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica has historically stood “in symbolic opposition to the autocratic and clericalist royal standards of the past.
The royal government used many flags, the best known being a blue shield and gold fleur-de-lis (the Royal Arms of France) on a white background, or state flag. Early in the French Revolution, the Paris militia, which played a prominent role in the storming of the Bastille, wore a cockade of blue and red, the city’s traditional colors. According to French general Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, white was the “ancient French color” and was added to the militia cockade to create a tricolor, or national, cockade of France.
This cockade became part of the uniform of the National Guard, which succeeded the militia and was commanded by Lafayette. The colours and design of the cockade are the basis of the Tricolor flag, adopted in 1790. The only difference was that the 1790 flag’s colors were reversed. A modified design by Jacques-Louis David was adopted in 1794. The royal white flag was used during the Bourbon restoration from 1815 to 1830; the tricolor was brought back after the July Revolution and has been used ever since 1830, except with a brief interruption for a few days in 1848.
The colors of the national flags are sometimes expressed as blue = cornflower, white = marguerite, and red = poppy.
The coat of arms of France depicts a lictor’s fasces upon branches of laurel and oak, as well as a ribbon bearing the national motto Liberté, égalité, fraternité. The arms was created in 1905 by heraldic painter-engraver Maurice de Meyère, and adopted by the government.
The two versions of the achievement includes the following external devices:
- The lesser version: The star and grand collar of the Legion of Honour.
- The greater version: The star and grand collar of the Legion of Honour, angelic supporters holding the national flag while standing upon a compartment, within a mantle crowned with a laurel wreath.
The Great Seal of France (Grand Sceau de la République française) is the official seal of the French Republic. After the 1792 revolution established the First French Republic, the insignia of the monarchy was removed from the seal. Over time, the new seal changed. At first, it featured Marianne, symbol of the revolution. It evolved to show that the people developed their culture and politics.
It features liberty personified as a seated Goddess of Liberty, wearing a crown with seven arches. She holds a fasces and is supported by a ship’s tiller with a cock carved or printed on it, representing the Gallic rooster (le coq gaulois), a symbol of the Gauls and early French nation. At her feet is a vase with the letters “SU” (“Suffrage Universel“, “Universal suffrage”). At her right, in the background, are symbols of the arts (painter’s tools), architecture (Ionic order), education (burning lamp), agriculture (a sheaf of wheat) and industry (a cog wheel). The scene is surrounded by the legend “RÉPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE, DÉMOCRATIQUE, UNE ET INDIVISIBLE” (“French Republic, democratic, one and indivisible”) and “24 FEV.1848” (24 February 1848) at the bottom.
The reverse bears the words “AU NOM DU PEUPLE FRANÇAIS” (“in the name of the French people”) surrounded by a crown of oak (symbol of perennity and justice) and laurel (symbol of glory) leaves tied together with wheat and grapes (agriculture and wealth), with the circular national motto “LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ“.